Leckmelm Gardens, Scotland

During a road trip around Scotland with my mother in 2014 we stopped at the beautiful Leckmelm Gardens just south of Ullapool on the banks of Loch Broom.

Leckmelm Gardens (or Leckmelm Shrubbery and Arboretum) is a woodland garden, planted in 1870 and restored in 1984. The climate is suprisingly mild and the rainfall high so a number of exotic plants thrive here.

Leckmelm Gardens were first laid out in the 1880’s by one A.C. Pirie of Aberdeen who, immediately upon becoming the owner, set about evicting his tenants in what turned out to be the last of the Highland Clearances. His conduct and the furore that followed it was instrumental in the passing of the Crofting Act and its consequent protection for tenants. No ‘big house’ ever stood on the land and the current Little Leckmelm House, a private home of the current owner, was originally a row of cottages and a laundry. Pirie lived on his yacht in Leckmelm harbour when visiting. The gardens were effectively abandoned from around 1930 until 1985 when the property was acquired by Sir Charles and Lady Gillean Troughton, who restored them to some of their former glory and opened the arboretum to the public. The fifty year gap in planning and maintenance was recently highlighted by the loss of several of the oldest and largest trees in a violent storm in January, 2015. Following the destruction of the storm, the present owner has embarked upon an extensive programme of renovation and restoration in preparation for the planting of a number of new specimen trees.

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